Real People: Blind Vanderbilt student runs Boston Marathon - WSMV News 4

Real People With Rudy: Blind Vanderbilt student runs Boston Marathon

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Stephanie Zundel completed the Boston Marathon. (WSMV) Stephanie Zundel completed the Boston Marathon. (WSMV)

Stephanie Zundel has been blind since the age of 3 because of a terrible reaction to medication, but she hasn't let that stop her from pursuing her dreams.

Zundel, who is a senior at Vanderbilt University, completed the Boston Marathon on Monday.

"When I first started running, I could not run a mile, so the fact that I could run 26.2 miles and accomplish the Boston Marathon, sometimes I question who am I?" she said.

Although her determination is strong now, that wasn't always the case.

"I went blind as an allergic reaction to Children's Motrin. Middle school and high school were a little rough for me; that's when I kind of went through my depression state where I was like, God, why did this happen? Why am I blind? This doesn't make sense," Zundel said. "My mom always says everything happens for a reason, but I didn't see a reason to this."

But that fighter inside began to emerge.

Every obstacle became a challenge, but that got her to the point when she lined up with thousands of other runners at the Boston Marathon.

"My personal philosophy is that disabilities don't disable us, they enable us to do things in different ways," Zundel said.

This obviously had to be a team effort. She had friends offer a lending arm for support and guidance.

During the marathon, Amy Harris and Harvey Freeman helped guide Zundel. Both are members of Achilles Nashville, an organization that helps those with disabilities.

"For the Boston Marathon, they only allow you to have one guide at a time. So Harvey ran the first bit with me, and Amy for the second bit," Zundel said. "Anyone who knows Achilles saw our bright yellow Achilles shirts and were cheering us on. Harvey and Amy would also explain different landmarks that they saw that they thought were cool, so I got to experience it that way."

Zundel said discomfort set in and she started struggling between miles 20 and 25.

"But once you hear that crowd and you know how close you are to the finish line, somewhere inside you, you find that strength to just bang it out at the end," she said.

But eventually Zundel crossed the finish line in Boston.

"I cried when I finished. I cried in happiness," she said.

Zundel wants to get her master's degree and eventually become a school counselor so she can teach and encourage others to believe in themselves no matter what.

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